Category Archives: Language

The scourge of Franglais

My former colleague Colin Randall was, and still is, the style guru for The National. But as a French speaker, he’s keen to point out that English isn’t the only language that falls afoul of dubious changes:

My kindred spirits at the wonderfully named Académie de la Carpette Anglaise have, in each of the past 10 years, awarded the “civic indignity” of the English Carpet prize to the members of the French establishment judged to have acquiesced most deplorably in the use of English to the detriment of French.

Last year, for example, the minister of higher education and research, Valérie Pécresse, was awarded the prize as punishment for her declaration that with French in decline, it was necessary to break remaining taboos on the use of English within EU institutions. A special international award went to a police force in the French-speaking part of Switzerland for calling itself the “United Police of Geneva”.

St Patrick's Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig)

Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona duit! Tá Gaeilge labhartha lag agam, ach is mo theanga é. Níl sé marbh fós, tuigeann tú. Fadó, nuair a bhí mé ag staidéar sa pobalscoil, bhí Gaeilge caoiseach mhaith agam. Ní raibh mé ar fheabhas, ach bhain mé taitneamh asat. Chríoch mé mo scrúdaithe tar éis triocha nó daichead noiméad (gnáthleibhéal). Ach seacht bliain seo caite tá sé caoiseach as láthair. Ó am go h-am, smaoin mé as Gaeilge. Ba fhearr liom é ós teangaithe eile (ach táim i ngrá le Fraincís).  I mo chroí is Gaeilgeoir mé. Freisin, tá tuirseach traochta agam 😛 Slán leat, agus tá súil agam go bain tú taitneamh as an lá náisúinta go hÉireann.



Happy St Patrick’s Day! I’m kind of weak at spoken Irish, but it is my language. It’s not dead yet, you understand. Long ago, when I was in school, my Irish was fairly good. I wasn’t excellent, but I enjoyed it. I even managed to finish my exams in thirty or forty minutes (ordinary level). But seven years later and it’s gone AWOL. From time to time, I think in Irish. I prefer it over other languages (although I love French). In my heart I’m a Gaeilgeoir. I’m also exhausted 😛 Bye for now, and I hope you enjoy Ireland’s national day.


Gaeilge: Níl sé marbh fós

Tá Lá na Gaeilge ag teacht — is Lá Fhéile Pádraig é, 17ú Márta. As Béarla, scríobh iGaeilge:

I’m proposing that every blogger who has Irish, be it the cúpla focal or a native speaker’s fluency, use that on Lá na Gaeilge by posting a blog or a comment as Gaeilge, or as much Gaeilge as they have, on that day.

It’ll only take a few minutes but it could have a profound impact on the blogosphere and with any luck will get some media attention. It’ll cost nothing and yet it might achieve more than has ever been achieved by grants and language stifling bureaucracy over several decades.

And if a number of the bloggers, posters carry on afterwards, all the better…..

Déanfaidh mé m’iarracht is fearr! Tá lá Twitter na Gaeilge agaibh freisin.

Links o' the day, 17/10/2008

Rogue ass jailed in Egypt. (RTÉ)

Palin lookalike strippers to strut in pageant. (AP)

RIAA appeals mistrial in file-sharing case. (CNet)

Its native tongue facing extinction, Native American tribe teaches the young. (International Herald Tribune)

Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive helps doctors perform CPR. (The Daily Telegraph)

Your bottled water may be no purer than tap. (Lifehacker)

Space smells of steak, says Nasa. (The Sun)


Portugal has voted to adopted Brasilian Portguese as its national language. It’s a sign of the times, as the South American country is economically in ascendancy and has a population many times in excess of its former colonial master.

The changes include spelling and the addition of three letters to the alphabet: k, w, and y. All letters Irish lacks, incidentally, apart from loan words.

But there will inevitably be opposition, as the change is as drastic as having Britain adopt American English (I work in a newspaper which has made North Americans conform to Anglo stylings, so I know how difficult it can be to change habits). Such is the way of language and life. Of course, I’m biased toward Brasil, but all the same I can understand the reason behind the change. It standardises the language, which is good for internet searches as well as contracts and the like; these points are made in the BBC article linked to above.

However, it does raise an interesting question. When faced with many variations, should the root be forced to change to come into line with the branches? Or, as with English, should the two distinctions be maintained?

Hat tip to Catholicgauze for coming across this news.

Another RTÉ oddity

The website is running a poll on whether the Irish language is being neglected. In one of those hang-you-head-in-your-hands moments, the poll — which is normally a fairly irreverent thing — doesn’t allow the use of a fada. So becomes ta, all under the correct RTÉ.ie logo. Amusingly though, someone in the company’s web team has edited the code so it reads Ta (an poll software seo, nach gceadaionn fada a usaid, san aireamh). That’s “this poll software doesn’t allow the use/inclusion of sínte fada“. Amusing to me, perhaps, but clearly not to you. I have failed you again, dear reader.